Fort Concho: A History and a Guide

Fort Concho: A History and a Guide

Fort Concho: A History and a Guide

Fort Concho: A History and a Guide

Synopsis

In the fall of 1867 the United States Army established a permanent camp on the plateau where the North and Middle Concho rivers join. For centuries, this high open plateau had remained barren except for passing expeditions or Native American hunting parties. The establishment of Fort Concho provided a vital link in the line of frontier defense and led to the development of the town of San Angelo across the North Concho River from the military post.

In more than twenty years of federal service, Fort Concho was home to companies of fifteen regiments in the regular United States Army, including Col. Ranald S. Mackenzie's Fourth Cavalry and Col. Benjamin Grierson's Tenth Cavalry of buffalo soldiers. The post provided a focal point for major campaigns against the Comanches, Kiowas, and Apaches. Patrols from Fort Concho charted vast areas of western Texas and provided a climate for settlement on the Texas frontier. Today Fort Concho stands restored, thanks to numerous preservation efforts, as a memorial to all the peoples who struggled to survive on the plateau where the rivers join.

Fort Concho : A History and a Guide by James T. Matthews has been hailed by Fort Concho director Bob Bluthardt as "the first book on the history of the fort in fifty years." Fort Concho is another title in the Texas State Historical Association's Fred Rider Cotten Popular History Series, which publishes short books about important historical sites or events in Texas history.

Number Eighteen: Fred Rider Cotten Popular History Series

Excerpt

In the fall of 1867 the United States Army established a permanent camp on the plateau where the North and Middle Concho rivers join. For centuries, this high open plateau had remained barren except for passing expeditions or hunting parties. the Jumano Indians had established a village downstream on the North Concho by the 1530s, and Cabeza de Vaca stayed there on his way west in 1534. Almost a century later, between 1629 and 1632, a mission under the leadership of Franciscans Juan de Salas and Diego Lopez conducted Christian services at the thriving Jumano village. By the 1650s Spanish traders from Santa Fe became frequent visitors at the Concho River settlement. Some collected the conchos, or shells, for which the river was named and harvested them for pearls. Around 1690 the Jumanos abandoned the area entirely in the face of Apache advances onto the South Plains of Texas.

In the mid 1700s the Apaches also moved on to the south and west as the Concho River country came under the control of Comanches, the fearless horsemen of the plains. the Comanche war trail crossed the Conchos on its way from Big Spring to the Rio Grande. As the flags of Spain, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, and finally the United States successively flew over the European settlements of Texas, the Comanches continued to travel freely across the South Plains. Then in 1849, following the war with Mexico . . .

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